A few days ago, I was talking to one of my Dunk-buddies, Joris. We were comparing the old days with today's festival scene. We concluded, obviously, that things used to be a lot better back in the days. The music was better, the audience was nicer, the whole thing was cheaper and so on. We complained like old people do.
But then I remembered a little something. We were not complaining like old people. We were complaining like spoiled brats. Yes, there is one little gem in the festival world that IS better, where the audience IS nicer and where all prices are pretty much justified. That gem is called Dunk! Fest and it has spoiled us to death in the past editions.
Not that I mind. I like to be spoiled, a lot. I also like to look forward to getting spoiled, which is exactly what I'm going to do in this little article.
Come for the music. Stay for the love
It was warm - it's always warm at Dunk!, even the weather gods love this festival. The music was spot on but what surprised me the most was the overall atmosphere. Everyone was so nice, it almost felt like I had taken a train to Canada. Artists, audience members, even the kitchen staff, all of them were amazingly kind. And that chili con carne: to lick your thumbs and fingers off, as we say here in weird-language country. Dunk! is love, and judging from the loud moaning in the tent next to mine a few years ago, you can take that literally.
Now, before I go to the music, let's go over a few other things that might come in handy. The camping ground will still be on that rocky soil so bring a hammer to get your tent pegs in. Also, the end of may is traditionally warm and sunny, so bring sunblock and something to cover your head. Some people might also cover their face but that has little to do with the sun. Next, Roger the festival man will probably be there. Be sure to give him a hug.
That's all the tips I'm going to give. By now you should know how to prepare for a three day trip like this one. I'd like to focus more on the music in this preview. I picked out five bands-to-see for each day and I did that in the known Merchants Of Air style: focus on the promising young acts and raise the bar so high that they'll get nervous for playing Dunk! Although there is a little something to say about the headliners as well.
According to some fans in the Dunk! festival facebook group, Ufomammut appears to be a questionable headliner. I have to disagree. I've seen this Italian doom metal behemoth a few times before and I must say, their intensity and their massive sound are definitely headliner material. If you loved what Russian Circles did, you will certainly appreciate a lengthy Ufomammut show.
I remember opening my review for Hæster's album by comparing it to those by Amenra. Little did I know that these guys would be booked for a show at the world's coziest festival. I'm sure that their rancid slab of sludge metal will be a delight for everyone wearing a Church Of Ra shirt, or even a Steak Number Eight shirt. I'm predicting a lot of Hæster shirts on the terrain after this show.
Another one of those up-and-coming acts is Black Narcissus, combining post-black metal with drum & bass. This is one of those non-typical acts that make me curious. On bandcamp, it sounds interesting enough to become a blast on stage. I really hope so.
I'm not exactly sure where and when Fvnerals will perform, but if it involves the woods and sheer darkness, this could become one of those haunting moments which make Dunk! so unique. The music is a torpid, sluggish blend of doom. Given the correct setting, this stuff will be trance-inducing. Who knows, for a short moment Fvnerals might transform the forest into a scene from The Walking Dead where the zombies wander through the forest, looking for more drone riffs to feed on.
For some peace and quiet, it seems like I have to turn to the lengthy tracks of Staghorn. This is stuff to dream away to, immersive post rock from a very high level.
The addition of Go March was quite a surprise for me. I discovered them a few years ago and I loved what they did. According to a friend of mine, they simply kicked Tortoise's ass during their performance at Rivierenhof, and with the new stuff, I can understand why. High energy psychedelic kraut indie or whatever you like to call it. Go March will be one of those bands that will see a lot of people shaking their behinds. Dance, baby, dance!!!.
The addition of A Swarm Of The Sun to this fantastic line-up is a dream come through. I've been wanting to see them for quite some time now, ever since their brilliant album 'The Rifts' came out. I'm pretty sure that their performance will be one of this year's highlights, especially with the equally enjoyable new album, 'The Woods'. I'll probably be up front for this one because, like that dude from Aerosmith once said, "I don't want to miss a thing."
This will be an amazing Friday, I can promise you that.
Dutch lute player Jozef Van Wissem seems to be quite an experimental addition to this line-up but probably also a welcome one. Again, the forest seems to be the perfect place for his music. I have a feeling that this will become something magical as well. I don't know if Jozef will bring guests or just do it on his own. All I know is that this will be something special.
A few years ago, Spanish sludge doom trio Malämmar crushed the young forest stage. No doubt in my mind that they are going to that again this year. Perhaps even outdo their previous attempt, who knows.
In the category "Well dûh", I present you Belgium's own Celestial Wolves. Let's admit it, nobody was surprised to see this quintet on the line-up. They're locals, they're on Dunk! Records and they apparently help organize the whole thing. Still, that doesn't mean that this will be a let-down. On the very contrary. The new album 'Call Of The Void' is an absolute post-rock gem and on stage they stand like an army. So yes, a home game to look forward to.
Hidden in the final paragraph of the line-up is Spanish "post-nada" band Le Temps Du Loup. I'm not exactly sure what to expect but this might be one of those typical Dunk!-discoveries. The intense video on top of their facebook page is already tremendously promising. Let's see if these guys can live up to the expectations.
"This project is an ode to slowness and to the art of feeling the world, a tribute to rare things, to things that need time to be."
Well, this description by Silent Whale Becomes A Dream sounds extremely promising to me. Quite frankly, so do the live videos on their facebook pages. I must say, I'm quite impressed and I'm beginning to believe that the upcoming performance of Silent Whale Becomes A Dream will become on of those rare but beautiful things which creates longstanding memories.
Hailing from Singapore, Paint The Sky Red delivers some gentle, sit-down-and-relax post rock. You know, something that will guide your through all the intensity, heavy riffing and teeth-shattering drums of many of the other acts. Something tells me to compare them to bands like Spoiwo and Cecilia::Eyes, which both managed to deliver emotional shows at this festival.
But, in the end, I'm quite positive that most of the audience on Dunk 2019 is looking forward to see Alcest destroy the main stage. This French horde, led by Neige, has been on wantlists and polls for years and finally now they can prove why. In short, Alcest is definitely a worthy headliner for an undoubtedly fantastic edition of the world's coziest festival.